Monday, 14 August 2017

My last 5 books: Vampires, ghosts, sci-fi and a bit of Japanese

1. Fairest, by Marissa Meyer. This is the story of Queen Levana, the Evil Queen of the Lunar Chronicles, based on the Queen in Snow White. While this book didn't do much for me, it was interesting to get some background to Levana. This book didn't justify any of her horrible actions, but it ventures to explain how she became that way, and it shows how she truly thought that she was doing right by her people. It explains the ban of mirrors, and more in detail what Cinder saw when she saw past Levana's glamour. It explains where Cinder came from, and how Channary died. It explains how Winter became her step-daughter. From an outside perspective it also explains how someone who endures life-long abuse, goes on abusing others, and not realising that that's what they're doing, because they themselves have never known anything else. As a story this book didn't do much for me, but it gave a lot of depth to Levana's character and for that I really appreciate it.

2. Stars Above, by Marissa Meyer. This is a short-story collection, in which all the stories take place in the Lunar Chronicles 'verse. A few of them were a little too fanfiction-y for my taste, but they still gave some extra depth to the main story, and explained a few aspects that were left out from the four main books.

  1. The Keeper. This story explains how Cinder came to be in the care of Michelle Benoit. It also features a very young Scarlet. 
  2. Glitches. A story about how Cinder was awakened from her life-long coma and sent to live with her new family. It also tells how it happened when Garan got the plague and how Cinder figured out she was good with mechanics. 
  3. The Queen's Army. This one tells the story of how Wolf was recruited into the special ops and how his brother came after him. It explains more why Wolf isn't a full-on wolf-hybrid like the Queen's footsoldiers, and how he came to be an alpha. 
  4. Carswell's Guide to Being Lucky. The true story of what really happened with that classmate that Cress admired him for saving from the bullies. Also explains where he came from, and gives him a nice background story. 
  5. After Sunshine Passes By. This is the story of how Cress came to live in the satellite. 
  6. The Princess and The Guard. The story of Winter's and Jacin's childhood together. It also says what happened that made Winter stop using her ability and the immediate consequences of it. 
  7. The Little Android. A futuristic re-telling of The Little Mermaid (re-telling of the original not the Disney version). It briefly features Cinder, otherwise there are only brand new characters.
  8. The Mechanic. This is basically the first chapter of Cinder but told through the eyes of Kai. Their first meeting and how he viewed her. 
  9. Something Old, Something New. This story is set 2 years after the event of the four main book. All the main characters get together and share stories, and the occasion is the upcoming wedding of Scarlet and Wolf. 
All in all I enjoyed these short stories. My favourites being The Princess and The Guard and The Little Android.

3. My Darling is a Foreigner, by Saori Oguri. Way before I picked up this book I had seen the movie, and I really liked it, so when I found this book I immediately bought it. I have never lived in Japan long enough to recognise all of the situations depicted in the book, but there's definitely some recognition and it made me laugh several times. It's nice that it's both in Japanese and English, because my kanji-reading has deteriorated terribly so when I couldn't make sense of something the English was there to back me up.

4. Anno Dracula, by Kim Newman. Let's play spot the reference! When I saw this book my thoughts went like this: "Ooooh, vampires!" "Ooooh, Neil Gaiman commentary!" "Ooooh, Kim Newman! That's Gaiman's 80s comics buddy!" Those three things made this book into a must-have for me. Reading it quickly became a fun game of spot the reference. Being very interested in Victorian stories this was a lot of fun for me. Especially the off-handed comments about Count Orlok (from Nosferatu) and Sir Francis Varney (from Varney the Vampire). I really enjoyed reading this twisting retelling of the Jack the Ripper legend, the only thing that brings the overall grade down for me was the lack of a defined plot. Half-way through the book I still wasn't sure what the plot really was, but I still enjoyed reading it so it didn't bother me that much. Still, a book should have a clear plot to be considered amazing.

5. Brännmärkta, by Lena Ollmark. Part 2 of a horror series for children. I loved the first book, and this second one was good too. Not as good as the first one because I found it confusing. What where we really up against in this book? Who's the bad guy? And every time I'd come as far as thinking that this must be the antagonist of this book, it's all turned upside down and I had to start over. I'm still not really sure what was happening. The ghost influenced the girl, ok, but where did the school cafeteria lady fit in? Was the ghost influencing her too? If there's one thing I really liked about this story is the part where Teddy makes a video game, and it makes the ghost stronger and makes her aware of them and what they're doing. That feels very inspired by Asian horror and I thoroughly enjoyed that part. Really looking forward to reading more from this author. Except the fact that it was a little confusing, there's really nothing I can complain about. I was even scared by this book, which is hard to achieve.

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